Today, the Protector of Citizens additionally requested the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to indicate the legal grounds on which primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Serbia cooperate with the citizens' association "Petnica Research Station", and to state the requirements for allocating the competent Ministry’s financial support to this and other entities engaged in the extracurricular education of children.
In order to protect the rights and best interests of the child, the Protector of Citizens continues to take further activities and measures within its competence in the investigation to control competent bodies’ work regularity and legality launched on 25 June 2021 after media articles on attendees of the Petnica Research Station programs suffering sexual abuse.
The Protector of Citizens has requested the competent ministry to inform him within 15 days on the legal grounds on which primary and secondary schools in Serbia submit to the citizens' association “Petnica RS" a detailed assessment by the subject teacher on students’ achievement, work and preferences , or expert opinion by a school psychologist or pedagogue whenever a child applies for one of the programs implemented by "Petnica RS" association.
The Ministry should also state the legal grounds on which the schools in Serbia inform students about the existence of competitions for programs implemented by "Petnica RS" citizens' association as well as whether other entities engaged in extracurricular education of children and youth have been given the same opportunity.
The Ministry should also submit to the Protector of Citizens the legal grounds according to which schools give their consent and certify with the school seal that the school will justify students’ absences from classes for their participation in " Petnica RS " programs.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development should also provide the Protector of Citizens with the legal grounds on which schools justify students’ absences from classes if they participate in some of the programs of "Petnica RS”, as well as in what way the Ministry provides support to this citizens’ association for organizing a range of programs intended for primary and secondary school teachers, what the programs are, who they are intended for and who implements them.
In addition, the Protector of Citizens has requested the Ministry to notify him whether and in what amount of money the Ministry supported financially the work of Petnica citizens’ association in the last ten years, and to submit evidence about it and about the manner of controlling the spending of allocated and disbursed funds.
The Protector of Citizens also expects the Ministry to respond whether the approval of financial support to "Petnica RS" and other entities engaged with extracurricular education of children was conditional on the existence of a program to protect children from violence, discrimination, abuse and neglect.
Also, the competent Ministry should state whether and with what amount of money it financially supported the work of other institutions and organizations (regional talent centers, citizens’ association, etc.) that engage in extracurricular education of children and how much money has been paid to them over the last decade, submitting pertinent evidence, as well as the evidence of control over the spending of approved and disbursed funds.
The Protector of Citizens has requested the Ministry of Science, Education and Technological Development to notify him whether they keep a register of entities engaged in extracurricular education of children and if yes, to provide the applicable data.